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Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Poultrylord, Oct 19, 2016.
Please, I need everyone's input on this.
Welcome to BYC,
I would recommend midget white turkeys as a pet since they are smart and quite easy to train / tame.
Hope this helps you with your decision!
All turkey breeds are inherently hit-and-miss on pet qualities, unfortunately.
MW have a reputation for being incredibly friendly and even having no fear of people whatsoever, however, this has not been my experience. My MW tom is skittish, has never felt like associating with humans at all. He's itty bitty and super cute, certainly, but his attitude is that of a flock bred by someone who didn't care for friendly temperaments and only cared about as much meat as could be acquired as fast as possible from as little feed as possible and would still be able to fit in a smaller oven whole. Some breeders care about production, or ability to survive free-ranging in a harsh area, or ability to handle confinement, or any other number of potential features. Plus, much as the case with dog breeders, you get people who think aggressive animals fend for themselves better (which isn't necessarily even true) so they actually select for vile temperaments in their toms. Always be careful. Buy from people you know and ask them what qualities they're breeding for.
Also, MW are a critically rare breed with a very small number of breeding birds. What this means is the genetic bottleneck effect. The survivors of this dog-eat-dog world wind up breeding because sometimes nicer birds with better types aren't available to use in a breeding program. MWs are a relatively new breed, and they've never had much popularity and certainly have never been numerous, so quite oftentimes, less stellar specimens wind up breeding in the attempt to help them gain quantity over quality.
Heritage turkeys in general have all of these same risks I've mentioned because even twenty years ago, they were virtually extinct in this country. That said, even my antisocial MW tom is in no way even remotely human-aggressive (though he hates my BBW jake--even then, he's not much of a fighter as turkeys go, I just wish they would knock it off because my wussy BBW is miserable getting harassed all the time).
As far as reliable temperament goes, the BB breeds are the king of the rock. I've never met a mean one, and when you think about it, nobody wants to be a CAFO full of aggressive toms that can weigh over fifty pounds, have spring loaded beaks, can stomp the living poodeedoodly right out of someone, and are guaranteed to attack as a group when they do decide to become aggressive to handlers. Thus, BBs are reliably docile and super friendly, long-suffering companions... for their teeny tiny lifespans which are fraught with all kinds of medical complications. BBs are heart-breakers, so I don't necessarily advise them as pets, but you're not likely to find a turkey as fool-proof on temperament.
I've heard Palms are sweet and the Leghorns of the turkey world, but, again, the only tom I've had of the breed was standoffish (and may have been from an abusive home besides). He wasn't aggressive to people, but he hated roosters. The poult I purchased died of a respiratory infection and overall failure to thrive this spring, but she was about the sweetest and most sociable poult ever, so I still have high expectations for the breed. However, I've met people who haven't been so lucky and wound up with Palms that were even human-aggressive, so take it as a grain of salt and do our research on the breeder. Both Palms and MW have pretty long lifespans as turkeys go, so they're good options as pets. Oddly enough, the MW actually arose from a cross of Palms with BBWs, so they ought to be the best of both worlds